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Failure to move forward on Denesuline talks before conclusion of government’s mandate would be a significant step backwards: Sinclair

By Senator Murray Sinclair      

But I am hopeful that both Carolyn Bennett and the Denesuline will consider moving forward with such an approach allowing the land claim agreements to move to community ratification and advancing reconciliation in the interests of the Indigenous groups and all Canadians.

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, pictured June 27, 2019, participates in a signing ceremony to advance reconciliation and Métis self-determination with the Métis Nation of Alberta, the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan in Ottawa on June 27, 2019. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

I was taken by surprise on June 19 when a delegation of chiefs, negotiators, and members from the Denesuline First Nations of Sayisi Dene, Black Lake, Northlands Denesuline, Fond du Lac, and Hatchet Lake held a press conference and public demonstration in Ottawa to bring attention to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett’s recent decision to refuse to initial their land claims agreements and to suspend further negotiations. I am familiar with the history of these negotiations and have met several times with their negotiating teams, including the community negotiators. These Denesuline people have been negotiating in good faith with the Government of Canada for more than 19 years to achieve constitutional recognition of harvesting and land rights in their traditional territories North of the 60th parallel.

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